Scooby Doo Team Up Volume 4 Review

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It’s time to look at the next Scooby Doo crossover adventure! The gang is back to solve a bunch of cases, but they may need a little extra muscle to back them up this time. The villains are growing more dangerous and most of them don’t even bother with a mask anymore. It’s unfortunate but the Mystery Inc may be out of their depth this time. As always it is a pretty fun assortment of stories. The franchise has always done a pretty good job of being consistent.

One of the stories involves the Men in Black (Not literally them but same concept) going after all of the alien superheroes on Earth. This is because the Martian Manhunter delivered a press conference to the world where he said that the aliens were going to take over. That’s when the real one shows up and asks the Mystery gang to help him clear his name. They are happy to do so, but it won’t be as easy as all that. Who can they trust and how can they debunk a television broadcast that everyone saw?

There is a bit of a cop out ending to this one, but nonetheless it is a fun story. The stakes probably felt a little higher here than in some of the other stories to be honest. The aliens really needed the help of a good detective and the main characters delivered. Well, most of the detectives did t any rate. This may have been the best story.

Then we’ve got an adventure with Zatanna. Her father is missing so she heads to our usual gang of detectives. They aren’t very helpful though and just recommend that she checks with some other magicians instead. They all meet up with a bunch of spellcasters, but they’ve all been robbed of their magical artifacts and are now helpless. Whoever has done this is certainly a big threat, but the heroes won’t give up. It’s a fun enough comic although I have a hard time believing that all of the magicians would get punked so easily. Zatanna’s always a fun character though so it was nice to see her get a story. The Mystery Inc needs to step up their game a bit though because Shaggy and Scooby always make them look so bad.

Another comic has the heroes go to a concert where the Infinities are playing. They’re a bunch of teenage superheroes who thought it would be smart to use the same name for both their human activities and super ones. Fortunately nobody has suspected a thing yet. A giant robot attacks along with a bunch of giant monsters so the heroes have to stop them. Thing is, the robot is usually a good guy, but he is being controlled remotely by an evil scientist with a criminally devious master plan. The heroes will have to think of something very quickly but what can they do? It’s a fun comic even if I’m not really familiar with any of the characters here. I didn’t like the giant robot but everyone else seemed mostly reasonable. I don’t think I would like the Infinities much either, but at least they can fight so it was good that they were around. This issue was a little weaker than the others.

Then we have a comic where Harley Quinn shows up to join the heroes. Fred and the others are skeptical but allow her to join anyway. It turns out that she is pretty good at the mystery business but the problem is that the Joker is after her. By extension this means that the heroes are also in quite the jam now. Batman is on the way but can they hold out long enough? This comic was fun, but what really took it to the next level was the surprise appearances of Batman and Robin at the end. I definitely wasn’t expecting to see them so that was neat. They do end up stealing the show as you would expect, but that’s par for the course for the Dynamic Duo.

Then we have the worst comic of the bunch. The heroes make it to the wild west where they decide to help out a pair of Donkeys. The Donkey sheriff has a secret identity where he puts on a cape and acts as a Zorro impersonation. The costume isn’t downright terrible but you know what the humor style will be like from the start and it never tries to be anything more than that. I couldn’t really get invested in the comic because the guest characters just weren’t interesting. I suppose they tried their best and it still isn’t a bad comic, but it just wasn’t very eventful.

Then we also can’t forget the appearance of the Space Ghost. He’s all business as per usual while the kid assistants just get captured a lot. The Space Ghost also look just as frightening on the page as in the universe going by how even Fred and the others seemed a little nervous in his presence. The Space Ghost commands respect after all. The villains know better than to mess with him and that’s why they always go after the kids. The comic isn’t really a mystery so much as it is just a fight against the Space Ghost’s usual villains, but it was definitely a lot of fun. The hero’s design has really aged very well.

The art is nice as always. The characters are always on point and it is just very consistent. You will be able to easily fly through the pages on your way to the end. The writing is also on point so you know what you are getting yourself into from the start. If you’re a fan of the Scooby Doo team and their usual antics then you should have absolutely no problem here. If you find them annoying then this won’t change your mind. Honestly, there’s just no saving Scooby and Shaggy at this point since they just aren’t brave enough to hope to stand up to anyone. The team needs to cut them loose. It’s unfortunate of course, but they just don’t add anything to the team.

Overall, This was another solid team up volume. It has the right blend of humor and some action that the franchise is know for. If anything, it probably has a little more action than the show would thanks to all of the superheroes running around. There’s nothing particularly unique about the volume as its just another installment that you could interchange with the previous 2, but that’s why you are focusing on the guest stars. Every time a new issue comes out we have a chance at a new guest star. Hopefully we get many more volumes of this series in the future.

Overall 7/10

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Maze Runner: The Death Cure Review

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It’s been quite a while since I saw the Scorch Trials but I knew that someday I would finish this series. That time is now and the Death Cure actually isn’t a bad film. For the most part it’s actually pretty solid but ends up losing a lot of steam by the time it reaches the ending. There really isn’t much of humanity left to save either.

The film starts with an almost humorous action scene where the main characters steal an entire train, knock out all of the guards and then fly out of there. They are lucky that the guards can’t shoot straight or that they had no cameras active to see the obvious traps that were set out for them. This sort of plot hax will be around for a while so now is a good time to get used to it. The characters have now freed over 100 kids and are ready to sail off to a better tomorrow. The problem is that one of their friends from the first film is still captured. Thomas, Newt, and Frypan head off to find him before also being joined by Jorge and Brenda. They will have to break into the enemy stronghold to free him and will have to risk everything one last time. Can they do it?

There is certainly a lot of action here. We have constant gun fights and miscellaneous explosions occurring off screen. There is even a hand to hand fight near the end. Naturally these kids aren’t exactly master martial arts so it’s really just both sides throwing a lot of punches as opposed to a lot of crispy choreography. The climax is really just one large war zone as the characters try to make it out in one piece.

The pacing isn’t bad either as things tend to move quickly. The heroes are rarely given a chance to rest and so the film is moving a lot as well. I can’t say the writing was all that good though as characters constantly sound like they are in a horror movie with all the needless yelling. The character cast also isn’t amazing and I had some issues with the ending. To explain why the ending is no ot that good without spoilers is a little tricky, but here goes. The whole film series is really about choosing a side. Is the government right for sacrificing around 50 kids to save the human population or should the kids simply escape but also soon humanity along with them? Well the choice was taken out of your hands early on as the government is unnecessarily cruel the whole time. They even go so far as to attempt to destroy one of the kids when harnessing his blood slowly would have been safer and could have saved more people. It’s also worth noting that their cures keep failing so they are gambling the kids lives on just a hunch. Then in the ending we basically realize that all hope is lost. Unless there is yet another lost city in the middle of nowhere but that would be super convenient. It means that the whole trilogy was ultimately pointless for most of the human race.

As I mentioned earlier there is also quite a lot of plot hax to be found here. The villains constantly seem to be on the losing side when they should have this in the bag. The amount of times they yell “freeze” is almost funny because the heroes absolutely never listen and it always results in the villains losing once again. The scene where the bus is surrounded is the worst part as they just watch one of the characters clip it to a construction crane and lift the bus out of there. They probably should have fired their guns.

Thomas is the main character and he is definitely no good. He is said to be a very forgiving character multiple times in the film to the point where he is ready to quickly forgive Teresa after she betrayed the heroes and took a role in torturing one of his friends. It’s not necessarily a bad thing that he forgives everyone but Thomas isn’t consistent about that. We’ve also got a kid who was mind controlled and forced into destroying another kid. The guy seemingly died but now he has returned and Thomas absolutely won’t forgive him. So really, it’s not that he is a forgiving person by nature, he just likes Teresa so he is willing to overlook her faults. He doesn’t handle the romance situation very well either and tends to not make very good commands as the leader. He’s just not a guy that you would want to follow into battle. Especially since he is always admitting that he has no idea what they are even doing.

Then we have Teresa who does not regret turning evil. That should mean she will be portrayed as a villain right? Well surprisingly the film actually tries to make her a little sympathetic with the classic the Ends Justify the Means line of thinking. That didn’t fly back in the day and it still doesn’t. She is on the wrong side and the film did a poor job of trying to show her switch sides or even making her cause look legitimate. As such the character was just pretty bad the whole time. The same goes for her Boss who spends the first two films capturing the kids and putting them in painful experiments. Now she is finally having second thoughts and it’s just way too late for that.

The only good villain is the main chief of security, Janson. He is sticking to his guns literally in this film as he shots quite a few characters and also knows how to fight. I mean, he’s not a great fighter as he can barely go even with Thomas but I suppose it’s a start at the very least. Janson also knows when it’s time to pull back and just win with a gun instead. His demise seems a little hard to buy since he would have known the room better than anyone and what it would take to break the glass though.

Newt was a solid character. He always does his best to support Thomas while also calling him out when the lead starts to act fishy. He has been infected for a while but manages to keep it quiet so as not to distract from the mission. Newt does have his typical blow up moment at Thomas which comes off as rather forced but that’s really his only iffy scene. Then we have the ex bully who still calls Thomas greeny. Honestly I barely remember the character at all so he may as well be a new character in this one. He is the commander of the resistance (How’d that happen?) aside from one old man who is consulted at times. He doesn’t tend to panic as much as the others and saves the leads quite a few times so at the very least he was really good in this film. More prepared than the others at the very least.

One scene that will really stick with you is when the main characters walk into a dark tunnel and are basically unarmed. Even if there wasn’t an army of zombies down there, what could they have possibly done against the villains in such a state? You have to bring a ton of ammo at the very least or some kind of plan. The heroes had neither and would have been doomed several times if they hadn’t kept getting saved. The whole film you are reminded of this as the heroes are just out of their depth for the majority of the movie.

Overall, The Death Cure isn’t a bad action film. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and the series ends on a fairly good note. The ending is a little more hopeless than I would have liked and a certain death didn’t really need to happen since things were so bad already. It also didn’t help Thomas much either since at the very end he writes someone’s name down which basically proves his allegiance once more. If you want to see a film with a lot of action scenes then this is the place to go, but don’t expect it to be the kind of film that you will never forget.

Overall 6/10

20 Million Miles to Earth Review

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It’s time to look at a really old creature feature film. Unfortunately this isn’t one of the better ones and is in fact a particularly weak one. It resorts to bottom of the barrel tropes like animal violence and so the film quickly goes downhill. from there. You just can’t add in animal violence and expect to do well. Also, it doesn’t help that the monster didn’t really have a great design. He looked sort of like the gill man when he should have gone for a more authentic Godzilla design. I suppose you can’t win them all though.

The basic plot is that a group of local fishers are having a good time when they notice a rocket crash land into the water. They quickly head on over to investigate it and they are able to save one of the people inside. The others all died to a plague from Venus, but they still did take the time to take one of the animals over from there. Unfortunately a local boy named Pepe stole the animal and sold him (Keep in mind that the animal is till in egg form) to a local scientist for a pair of fake guns. The army doesn’t know this and is intent on finding the animal quickly. Turns out that they won’t have to look far though as the oxygen on Earth is having a peculiar effect on the creature and it is now growing very rapidly. If it keeps on going at this pace then thousands may perish. (Seems like hyperbole but one of the characters said so.)

It’s very by the books as far as the plot is concerned. The creature goes on a rampage and starts breaking stuff so the heroes have to put an end to it. The humans are all consumed by greed though and so they keep letting the creature get away. They want to contain it rather than destroy the beast because it can be useful for scientific study. This continues even when the monster is murdering people. One guy is literally getting bit to death while they just watch because they don’t want to hurt the monster. The big irony here is that bullets don’t work on the creature anyway so they were worried for nothing. It still makes you wonder about their principles though. The Italian government were the ones in the right here as the Americans just looked pretty bad the whole time. Even once they captured the beast to keep zapping him the whole time they let him break out and then a bunch of other people perished. So much for that eh?

Pepe is also a very annoying kid. In fact, he’s pretty much exactly what you expect whenever a kid shows up. They just tend to be rather annoying the whole time as they hide things from the grownups and keep trying for more and more money. He just holds everyone back. I’d say that the main fisher was probably the best character. He’s the only one who actually wanted to help the people from the crash while everyone else was too busy trying to escape. Certainly not the bravest thing to do in the middle of that. Of course, these characters aren’t here to be likable and they typically aren’t all that smart either.

Take Marisa, the doctor in training. She is in charge of looking after the 2 people from the crash, but one of them is unfortunately dying. The first guy, Calder quickly tries to wake up the second one to get answers, but she keeps telling him to leave the guy alone. Decent advice I guess, but since the guy is dying it isn’t like there is actually going to be a later. Then it makes sense to get all of the answers right away. She goes back and forth with Calder on this quite a lot until a random romance pops up and you wonder why once again romance was forced into a film for no real reason. It certainly didn’t add anything to the film and aside from a few very brief scenes it never actually goes anywhere. It’s just around for kicks.

The actual doctor isn’t very intelligent either. First he leaves the moving egg by itself as he goes to take a nap. Then after putting it in the cage he goes to sleep again and the monster has almost grown too large for his cage. What he does next is leave once again to go talk to Pepe and then decides to take a long trip to Rome. Did he really think that the monster would simply stop growing or that it would peacefully let them take it to Rome? Clearly this guy must be a self proclaimed doctor since I would expect him to be a lot smarter if his degree was actually legitimate.

The writing isn’t terrible, but it’s just nothing inspired. You could take some of the dialogue here and place it into almost any other monster film. It will work just fine because of how generic it is. Anyway, all of that could have been forgiven if not for the animal violence. As if once wasn’t bad enough they decide to go through with this twice. Perhaps it is the only way to show what a threat this monster is supposed to be, but picking on the humans would have been a better way of getting that across if you ask me.

Overall, I have to give this film a hard thumbs down. The creature isn’t very interesting and the characters are nothing special. Not only are they not quite as on the ball as a classic lead from other films, but their priorities are completely misplaced. The fact that they are okay with a bunch of people dying if it means that they get to study the monster just shows that these guys have no scruples. The whole situation makes it hard to root for the heroes, but you can’t root for the monster either so then what is there to do? Not much except to quickly shut off the movie. I’d certainly advise you to stick away from this one unless you want to get bored. If you need to see a film about a monster, go watch one of the Godzilla films. Those tend to deliver on the action front which this one could not. Also, who thought it would be a god idea to make the monster look really old and weak by giving him a mustache?

Overall 2/10

Dark Angel Review

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It’s time to look at a PS2 movie tie-in to a TV series that I never actually got around to watching. It seems like a cool premise though. It’s basically Maximum Ride but taking place in a futuristic setting. I can get behind that. The actual game mixes stealth with the beat em up genre for interesting results. Honestly I think it would have certainly been sufficient to have just been a beat em up, but I suppose the stealth aspects make sense with the actual plot of the game.

So the story follows Max (You won’t be able to forget her name since it is mentioned a few times for every single level) as she wants to rescue the other people who was kidnapped by the I-Corporation and experimented on. Among those were her sisters. Max broke out (In the show I’m guessing) but now she must head back to face her fears once more. Logan helps her from the sidelines as he tries to shut off some security cameras here and there. He’s basically tech support and I suppose he does go into the field once in a while. Can Max really save her family?

One thing to note here is that in the future the government fell apart thanks to some kind of nuclear situation so now corporations run the world. I-Corp is one of those along with a second one that I’m forgetting. Both sides are evil and do experimentation so you have to decide who to root for. In this case we are going after I-Corp, but apparently Max destroyed a good chunk of the other side prior to the game so she has done a good job of taking out any corporation that stands against her.

The gameplay is very straight forward when it comes to combat. You can punch, kick, and throw. Jumping is also useful even if the jump isn’t very high. You can run and then jump+kick to unleash a devastating tackle that will knock any opponent over. This is really useful for when a bunch of enemies are after you as they have no real counter to this. If you don’t mind taking a little while you can bear all of the enemies this way. To prevent you from cheesing the game for each level though, some will have a time limit for which you can beat the enemies. Just keep mixing up your punches and kicks to resist enemy throws and you’ll be okay. Whenever possible I would ignore the stealth option and just barrel into groups of enemies. Some groups I just barely beat with 1 second left, but that’s the kind of intensity that you want to see. Also, I didn’t quite understand the stealth part for a little while since the game never explains it.

Basically if you crouch from behind an enemy and attempt to throw them it will result in a one hit KO. This is really useful if there are a bunch of enemies. You can take them all out one at a time this way. Otherwise if you just attack one then every enemy in the room will rush at you which can be around 6 and they can take a lot of health out of you if you aren’t careful. 2 of the last levels mix this formula up a bit though as stealth isn’t optional. If you are spotted then you are sent back to the very beginning. These levels can be a little on the long side so I can definitely confirm that it’s in your best interest to proceed with caution. A good technique for mixing the enemies up is just randomly jumping and then running off to hide. It will change their current pattern into one that may be easier. Of course it could get harder so proceed with caution.

To help in your stealth missions you are given some stealth gun ammo. This is a one hit KO to any opponent so it’s a good way to cheese these stealth missions. It is a tactical gamble though as you don’t get a whole lot of ammo. I believe you get around 20 shots for the duration of the game or something like that. Use your ammo wisely. I had already spent all of mine before the last big stealth mission, but I’d say that I did a good job of making it last when you consider how many levels there are. You also have other gadgets like a walkie talkie to lure the enemies closer and health packs which are self explanatory. As with many stealth games you just want to make these items really count.

As far as the characters go, we have a good cast here. Max is definitely a great main character. All of her dialogue is basically mocking all of the minions as she beats them up. She certainly isn’t above hitting someone who’s down as we even see that in a cutscene near the end so it isn’t just gameplay mechanics. She’s had a tough past but has definitely gotten past it and turned into a good hero. Logan is all right. I’m not a fan, but I guess he is useful. I can’t say much about the sisters as they don’t appear until near the end, but Beka was cool. She’s probably the best character after Max. She can certainly fight pretty well too.

The graphics look pretty sharp. A good amount of budget probably went into the cutscenes as they are full cinematics so no text cop outs. I mean, you get a text cutscene at the beginning of each level as well, but so long as you get both that isn’t an issue. The visuals are quite nice and I just wish we could have gotten more outdoor levels as towards the end they all feel a little cramped. The game had reasonable variety though. The soundtrack is definitely pretty solid. A little on the generic side, but nonetheless the combat themes were quite fast and really suck you into the moment. It makes the battles more fun.

There is no real replay value here though. There’s no level select and no collectibles to acquire. Basically once you complete the game that is it for your adventure. You have no more reason to play at all. With 22 levels I’d say that this game should last you around 4-5 hours. It will depend on how long some of the tougher levels take you as one took me around an hour before I finally had it beat. It’s no walk in the park and the game’s difficulty is pretty fair. It’s just enough to make you try but not too crazy either.

Overall, Dark Angel is definitely a fun game. The TV show definitely sounds pretty interesting if it’s like that. Max is basically a super soldier after all so that should make for some good action scenes. Hopefully the special effects were on point for that. Considering that I got the game for a few bucks I would say that this was a bargain. If you are looking for a quality action game to get for cheap then this is definitely the one for you. It’s just such a solid action game. Who knows, maybe it’ll get a sequel someday.

Overall 7/10

Scooby Doo Team Up Volume 3 Review

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It’s time to look at another volume of the Scooby Doo and DC team up series. It’s been quite a while since I read the last one so it’s pretty nostalgic to see it return. The Mystery Inc definitely makes for a good crossover cast with how confident they are in their deductive skills. No matter how powerful the villain is they just continue to solve the case their way. It’s admirable even if it causes them to get in a lot of trouble. The stories in this volume are all pretty solid even if the final one is a bit weaker than the rest.

One of the stories has the gang head over to Fawcett city when Shazam and the rest of the Marvel family disappears. Granted, Uncle Marvel stuck around along with the cat mascot. Unfortunately they have no idea what happened but the Mystery Inc is up for the challenge. Along the the way Velma and Shaggy even get their own blend of Marvel abilities do they can finally fight with the best of them. It’s a nice payoff for fans who have always been waiting for some kind of power up. Definitely a nice story and seeing the gang get abilities is always fun as well. It’s not like Shazam got beat in an actual fight either so at least it wasn’t a moment of plot hax for him to be saved either.

Another story had Scooby Doo get recruited to help The Galactic Dog Patrol (Not their exact name but it is nice and descriptive) as their main members where all destroyed by an evil villain group. There are 2 groups running around, a cat group and then there is an evil dog. The cats are defeated rather easily but the dog ends up being an issue. Good thing Scooby is here. Surprisingly the issue actually has quite a lot of action so that helped it get past the issue of the human characters not being around. Pretty much the whole comic was a bunch of fight scenes and I can always get behind that. Scooby Doo can get rather annoying though. Even when the villains are making a move and the stakes are serious he actually tries to desert the team. There is being a coward and then there is just being a traitor. Abandoning your friends to die gets into the latter’s territory so the dog couldn’t save himself after that.

Another issue was with the Phantom Stranger. He visits the gang on Halloween and asks for their help. A villain has been defeating all of the cosmic beings of DC. This should surprise no one and the gang takes it in stride. They figure that the Spectre can save them but alas he was defeated as well and then the Stranger is tricked into falling in the cage. Scooby will have to use a forbidden power to save them all but at what cost? It’s good to see Scooby step up even if it isn’t willingly. A pretty fun comic and it’s always nice to throw the gang into a situation or cosmic significance like this.

We can’t forget the issue with Hawkman and Hawkgirl either. They are up against 3 ghost related villains so naturally the Mystery Inc are the first people the cops call. The superheroes actually seem rather offended about this, but it’s not like the cops have their cell numbers. Meanwhile everyone knows how to contact the detectives. It’s a pretty nice issue like the rest. I may not be a big fan of either Hawk character, but maybe that’s why it’s so good as the Mystery Inc puts them in their place.

The Flash issue brings back Gorilla Grodd who is certainly a classic character for his mythos. It was a little less interesting than some of the other stories for that reason though. I can’t really take Grodd all that seriously usually. A slow villain vs a fast hero? This does not compute. Still, it’s not as straight forward as just tackling the guy sometimes (Even if it could be) and it’s still a good issue. Finally we also have the Aquaman team up. His kingdom is being attacked by Black Manta and the Ocean Master so the King has his work cut out for him. Honestly there wasn’t much that Scooby and the gang could do to back him up in this case but they did give moral support and were always willing to yell if they saw something. If I’m giving them a fair trial then I guess I have to admit that they did help in beating the enemies a little bit, but there just wasn’t much detective work for them to do in this case since the villains were already known.

Now this is probably around the part where I have to point out that Shaggy and Scooby are still as annoying as ever. They constantly let the world know that they are scared of what is happening and it’s just embarrassing for the rest of the gang. They are always ready to ditch the others and prove time and time again that they aren’t really heroes. You just can’t trust these guys and it might be time for Fred to cut them loose. It would be tough to fire a friend like that, but Shaggy and Scooby have failed them for the last time.

Fred, Daphne, and Velma are solid as always though. Their roles here naturally aren’t as big as the dynamic duo’s, but they get their moments. Fred actually manages to knock one of the villains to the ground which prevented him from escaping. Velma manages to use her deductive skills a few times to determine who the villain is and Daphne is always around to keep everyone in line.

The art for the issues is pretty good. All of the characters are on model and it’s easy to tell what is happening at all times. The art style goes for a rather basic approach which is smart if you ask me and it’s easy to read through. It can also make for good fight scenes although of course you shouldn’t expect too many of those. It’s just a nice nostalgic style which will remind you of the classic Scooby Doo days. The writing is also good and helps equally in achieving such a nostalgic frame for the volume. These stories could very easily be turned into episodes and nothing would appear to be out of place.

Overall, This was a fun Scooby Doo adventure. I certainly had fun reading it and not actually having any bad stories is always a plus. It’s a rather quick collection so it won’t take you long to finish it all off. I already have the next volume at the ready so I will be reading that one shortly. We’ll see if it can match this one. The team ups deliver on what you would expect from such a crossover. It has the comedic charm of the Mystery Inc while also adding in a little extra action for the DC fans. Now all we need are more Superman and Batman team ups with the gang.

Overall 7/10

Cardfight Vanguard G: Z Review

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It’s been a good run, but Cardfight Vanguard has finally ended. With 370 episodes across both generations that is quite a lot of Cardfights. It’s really comparable to Yugioh at this point. Naturally that franchise has more total episodes and it would be tough to ever match that number, but once you cross 100 episodes you can certainly be counted as a legitimate powerhouse. I’ll be sure to rank all of the Cardfight seasons at the end of the review. Most of them are super close so it’s definitely a tough one to decide. All right, lets dive into Z!

Right away you can tell that this series is going to be intense because you only use the term Z when the series is going to have a ton of action. Vanguard does not disappoint here as action is absolutely what you will be getting. The last season ended with the heroes defeating the main 3 Diffriders and winning the tournament. That may have been good progress in the fight against evil, but Kazumi was never the main threat. The Apostles of Gyze are around now and they need a vessel for their leader. Their plan is unaltered, they want to awaken the 6 Zeroth Dragons to pave the way for Gyze. The members decide to split up and take Team TRY 3 out of the equation pre-emptively. (Pretty smart move honestly) The heroes will have to move quickly to stop their plan and they will need teamwork, but the situation is already quite personal for them so it may be tough to move in with a clear head.

As this season is only 24 episodes (The shortest in the franchise unless you count one of the G seasons that was merged together with another one in the Dub) the plot has to move right away so there is no waiting around here. That’s the bonus of continuing the plot of a previous season. There is no need for build up or character introductions since that was already done last time. As such the villains attack Chrono and Shion within the first 3 episodes. The Apostles really look very impressive from the start here as the heroes just seem like no match at times. The most impressive member would be the one who fought Shion at least when comparing their initial appearances. The show dropped the ball on him a bit though.

Almost every episode has a big fight occurring in this season. As the villains aren’t playing games around you also see a level of desperation among the heroes that hasn’t happened too often in G. At the very least, it usually doesn’t happen quite so soon. One small moment that I really liked here was how Chrono used a Zeroth dragon with no hesitation. Usually when the main character relents and uses the dark power of a villain there is a lot of drama or the character gives it some long thought. Chrono just went for it. For context, he was up against the leader of the Apostles. If he wins this fight he can save his friend and eliminate one of the biggest threats to the world in one move. None of his cards are strong enough at this point, but if he uses one of the evil deity cards that he swiped from another member it will give him a chance.

Dark power like this never comes cheap though. The price for playing a Zeroth Dragon is that if you lose the duel all of your Grade 4 cards will be atomized and so you will be losing all of your strongest cards. It’s a steep penalty since you are essentially powerless in a duel without those. before G you could get away with it since Grade 4s didn’t exist, but now that they do they are absolutely essential. The stakes are high, but it would have almost been selfish of Chrono to not use one just for that. He had a world to protect.

Naturally I was a big fan of Chrono here. He definitely looks like the experienced veteran that he is here. It doesn’t mean that he is now the strongest player in the world but he certainly ranks up there. He takes risks and is always ready to defend his friends. Chrono is the kind of guy that you want on your team for sure. He won’t back down from a duel. Chrono has definitely developed into a character worthy of his mysterious deck.

Shion is still Chrono’s rival but at this point that is rarely evident as he has completely mellowed out into being a friend. I suppose it’s a good change of pace to have a rival who isn’t super rude or obnoxious the whole time. Shion is finally back to being master of the Kiba empire at this point so as you can imagine he feels pretty unbeatable. That’s why his first fight with Valeos was so intense because it was basically unheard of for someone to have the upper hand against Shion. It also showed that the villains recognized him as a legitimate threat. Shion’s role in this season is still rather small but it is a good one nonetheless. He does get his revenge for the earlier loss as well.

Then we have Tokoha who has started to bounce back from the last season. That one didn’t go so well for her as she absorbed quite a few losses and wasn’t really in a right state of mind since Miguel was taken out of the picture. Now she has mainly recovered from this and is back to being a strong contender. Like Shion she doesn’t get too many duels here but still gets to help out in the final battle.
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Kazuma certainly has a large role in this season and is probably the most crucial aside from Chrono. Now that he has his brother back Kazuma is ready to take the fight to the villains. While he is a very strong fighter and Kazuma’s confidence is at an all time high, he still isn’t quite ready to take on these villains yet. Things don’t go very well for him, but I do appreciate the attempt. Kazuma still has a cool deck and a nice theme. Couple that with his character development into a more confident character and he is one of the best members of the main cast. At the very least I think he would be second among the main G heroes.

Kazumi was one of the big villains of the last season since he was being possessed but it’s important to remember that he was a world class duelist even before all of that. It is fortunate for the heroes that he is around. Kazumi’s a nice character and you will get some Itachi vibes from him. Unfortunately he doesn’t look great when it comes to dueling. After all, what better shock value can there be than taking down the former Under 20 champion? Winning and losing are t everything though and it doesn’t change the fact that he is quite formidable.

Arata and Makoto are a little important in this season because of what happened to their friend Noa who was possessed by the dark side. Still, they really can’t fight so for the most part they are stuck cheering everyone on in the background. The characters really weren’t needed to be honest but I guess it would be weird if they had just vanished. They aren’t bad characters, they just aren’t ready for a villain of this magnitude.

Noa is one of the big villains and probably the strongest aside from perhaps Gyze. He was in the shadows a lot for the last season but his presence is always felt. He has the Link Joker deck which is still the best one in the series. The monster is the only one who doesn’t just fade away after being defeated or turns good. This guy can’t stand the humans and does his best to bury them. I would have liked Noa to have dueled a little more to be honest, but I’m certainly satisfied with how much effort it took to bring him down. Having Aichi and Kai team up against you is always a sign of respect.

Kouji is definitely an interesting character. I’m still not really a fan of the guy. He is essentially the vanguard of the heroes but his plans never seem to be very good. The villains always have the drop on the heroes and while he may have been very powerful back in the day, Kouji seems a little outmatched against all of the new villains. He has softened up completely into a nice guy, but never likes to admit to it which leads to him always trying to keep to himself. He’s not as bad as in previous seasons as he has finally stopped doubting Chrono’s ability, but the guy just needs to be cooler. Maybe a new costume would have done the trick.

Saori doesn’t last too long in this season as he was mainly a big character in the last season, but he is still a lot of fun here. He still has one of the best battle themes out of all the characters and he is just a tough fighter. Saori has a lot of doubts about what he is doing, but ultimately just stays on his path. The villain’s confidence is really what makes him a fun character.

Aichi finally gets to duel a little more seriously here which is good. In general I still think the original cast didn’t get to do a whole lot compared to what I would have liked to see. They did have 4 seasons (Aichi only had 3) so I guess that was enough fights. I don’t like how Aichi has basically retired from Cardfight but I suppose as long as his skills don’t get rusty he will always come to help out when it counts. Likewise Kai is also here to fight the good fight. He gets 2 big fights against the villains which is good. Wakamizu actually does give him a good fight, but the outcome is what matters and at the end of the day Kai is still one of those guys that you never expect will lose.

Kamui also looks solid here. He has done a good job of keeping up with the other characters over the years. While he isn’t in the top 5 at this point he still helps out a lot against the villains and it’s always nice to see him around. Misaki finally gets a duel of her own. The series took its time with her, but having her take on one of the big final villains was certainly good. I am a little skeptical on her being strong enough to take on this particular opponent, but perhaps her deck was simply well suited from the job. In a duel you never ultimately know who is going to win. Her tactical style does bring out the best from her deck as well.
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Valeos is a bit of a tragic case since I actually liked the villain quite a bit. He was a credible threat to the heroes and seemed to be the main thinker of the villains. Going after Shion’s OP sword was brilliant and taking it out of the equation definitely helped their goals get a bit easier. That’s why it makes no sense when he suddenly goes insane near the end. The show was slowly building up to this as we gradually got hints of his psyche decaying, but why did it have to happen at all? It came out of left field and seemed to just be an excuse to let Shion have the upper hand. If he didn’t crack then I don’t really think Shion would have been a match for him. Not sure what to think of this guy by the end but at least he had a great intro.

Gastille is essentially the deputy of the villains. Gyze is certainlty still the leader but while he is out of commission Gastille tends to call the shots. He is a powerful villain, but one who doesn’t get to appear a whole lot. Still, he does really well in his brief appearances and I liked him. He’s still not the best villain since Noa and Saori are around but otherwise he is probably the beast. You get a Ren vibe from the guy with how confident he is. Well…okay all of the Cardfight characters are confident, but they tend to show it in different ways.

Taiyou was one of the big members of Chrono’s team for the last few seasons, but his role in this one is rather small. He gets badly injured after one of the early duels and never really recovers after that. You still have to like the guy’s dedication though. He’s very loyal to helping out the heroes and won’t hesitate to throw himself into harm’s way. He eagerly attacks the villains and while he doesn’t succeed, he did put up a good fight.

Then we have Wakamizu who is probably the least interesting villain. He’s technically pretty smart and the villains would have had a tough time without him, but his deck isn’t quite as good as the others. He’s deceptively strong, but I just didn’t care for the guy much. Not a bad villain, but I suppose he was simply outshined. His master Gredora was certainly more compelling even though her screen time was incredibly limited. At the very least she felt like more of a commander though. She was also a villain who actually cared about her subordinates and quickly went to defend Wakamizu after he was defeated. It’s always nice to see villains who also show loyalty and that’s why Gredora was a villain worthy of an army.

Gyze is the big boss of the series. Naturally this means that he is asleep until near the very end though. He gets 2 duels which isn’t bad, but I would have liked to have seen him more. The guy serves his purpose as a big final boss though and puts up a good fight. He just wasn’t ready to deal with the likes of Team TRY 3. He did come close to destroying the world though and I like how even in defeat the world would get destroyed by the sheer impact that it had on space and time. Gyze is definitely not the kind of opponent who does anything halfway. He did have a pretty cool design and his special ability of bringing in all of the Zeroth Dragons at once is really useful.

As always the animation is certainly stellar. The character designs starting from the last season certainly look really good. Chrono and the others look more experienced than they used to be and they also act accordingly. They get the respect you’d expect them to have considering that they have saved the world a few times now. The duels are as sharp as ever and the colors are vibrant. There is nothing negative at all to say about it. Then the soundtrack is just as impressive. I really like the new bumper/music that comes at the start of each episode. It’s a very dramatic theme that has you keep your guard up. It also really supports the feeling of dread that the heroes have. Each character still has a battle theme and most of them are quite epic. Even the few characters whose theme doesn’t absolutely stand out still have a good one. The best theme is definitely the red haired kid’s, but Kazumi’s is also excellent. You have a lot of options to choose from. Cardfight never disappointed on a technical level (Or any level for that matter) and this last season was no exception.
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All right it’s time to rank all of the Cardfight seasons! There have definitely been a lot of great ones over the years so it’s tough. I know the first and last place ones off the top of my head, but the rest get really tough. Still, I gotta make the tough choices at some point so it may as well be now.

1st. Cardfight Vanguard: Link Joker. Pretty easy number 1, this was the best season by far and the season was completely amazing. Really has everything that you could ever want in a single season.

2nd Cardfight Vanguard. The original Cardfight definitely helped get the series on the right track. It’s really rare to see a main character who actually loses as many fights as Aichi. If handled wrong that could have been annoying but overall he learned from his losses and got really good. It was just a great season and is also super nostalgic.

3rd Cardfight Vanguard Asia Circuit. This season probably has less memorable aspects to it compared to the other seasons, but this was the big Psyqualia boom. Everyone had it from Leon to the leader of the kid squad to Ren and Aichi. I still miss Psyqualia to this day so that was a lot of fun and the season was basically nonstop tournaments so you really can’t go wrong there. The climax was also super hype as you would expect.

4th Cardfight Vanguard Legion Mate. This season is tough because I thought it was awesome from the plot to the execution. At the same time it was a little short. I guess 33 episodes is a solid length, but it’s really close between this and NEXT. I’ll give Legion Mate the edge because having Kai as a main character was hype and the loser of each match getting burned was definitely a very real way of raising the stakes.

5th Cardfight Vanguard G NEXT. Definitely the best G season. The tournament was really good and Kazumi was just such an awesome villain It was also really long so we had time for a bunch of fights. We hadn’t had a tournament that was this long and serious since the original Cardfight days. The new animation style also worked quite well for this saga and the first episode was the perfect way to hype up the new villain.

6th Cardfight Vanguard G Z. This season is very close to NEXT, but it mainly loses out because it’s a lot shorter. There’s less chance to quite match the hype that was behind NEXT. Still, a great way to end the series and 6th is certainly nothing to be ashamed about when it’s relative to other Cardfight seasons. A superb show in all aspects.

7th Cardfight Vanguard G Stride Gate. We finally got the payoff to the first G arcs here and it was definitely a lot of fun. I liked the main villain and this is really where Chrono came into his own as a solid main character. He didn’t fall for the mind games of the villains and kept dueling as he knew best.

8th Cardfight Vanguard G: GIRS Crisis. The plot started to get moving with this show, but it was still a little slow. Not a whole lot happened here compared to what you might guess from the title. The heroes were still trying to get recognized as serious fighters here, but it would be a while before the grownups would acknowledge them.

9th Cardfight Vanguard G. Still a very solid show, but pretty much the whole season was just character introductions. While that is similar to the first half of the original Cardfight, we didn’t get a big payoff at the end like the original. There was no Psyqualia equivalent or an antagonist quite as interesting as Ren.

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Overall, This was a really great way to end the G part of the series. By the end of its run it had really solidified itself as an excellent show even without the influence of the main series. I currently have Cardfight Vanguard as a whole in my top 5 shows. If we count G separately then it would likely still be in my top 15, perhaps just barely making it into Top 10, but no guarantees there. Throughout the various sagas the characters got a lot of development and we got a bunch of great characters. The animation and music were on point and this show has met the high bar that the card game genre has set. I definitely recommend checking this show out. Honestly, it’s best if you start with either the first G series or the very first season as opposed to starting with Z, but either way you’ll have a blast here. I look forward to seeing the retro season coming up.

Overall 9/10

Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers Review

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It’s time to look at a really old alien film. This is the kind of flick that will remind you why aliens are so scary in the first place. They can’t be reasoned with and just want to take over every planet that gets in their way. You don’t want to mess with these guys and the humans have to desperately scramble to stop them. It’s an entertaining film that may not have the best lead, but still hits most of the right notes.

The film starts off with Russell sending another rocket into space. It’s been a futile mission as so far each missile has been sent right back down to Earth. At this point he is just wasting money and a general tells him this, but the lead refuses to listen. He will keep on sending the missiles into space and nobody can stop him! As he drives away with Carol, a UFO shows up which changes things a bit. They are now readying their invasion force to take over the Earth. Russell will have to build a super laser to shut them down, but can he really invent such a thing or is he already doomed?

As you can tell I thought Russell was rather slow on the uptake. If a bunch of missiles keep losing contact as soon as they are sent out, why would you send more without actually fixing anything about them? The main characters finally decide to add a camera to the last one so they can find out what is happening, but shouldn’t a camera have been there right from the start? It seems to me that for a mission of such importance you would want to document everything at all times.

Russell’s big slip up was in meeting up with the aliens privately. Carol and the army guy do manage to catch him so they all end up being threatened by the aliens as a team. I’ll give the army guy some credit for actually firing at the aliens while in the ship. They might as well go down swinging right? Russell is the one who puts the group in danger constantly. For example, he knew that a little energy orb had been spying on him for the last few weeks and that random lights would show up in the sky, but he thought nothing of them. It seems like nothing would cause him to show even a little bit of the usual alarm that you would expect from a reasonable main character. He may get to run the victory lap at the end, but he certainly put the Earth in quite the predicament.

Meanwhile I can’t say that I was a big fan of Carol. Mainly because she was quick to rat out Russell when he was trying to escape the base. Whether she agreed with him or not, such a call would probably have him arrested and it’s not like she had a better idea. When you make a call to betray someone like that, it’s a big decision. The characters forget about this pretty quick, but that could have been a very damaging moment for them.

I do have to give the army some props for shooting the aliens right away. Obviously that isn’t usually a good idea since the aliens hadn’t actually done anything yet, but we weren’t going to be pushed around this time. Usually when the army shoots first it turns out that the aliens were actually good guys so this was a good way of flipping that around real quick. Too bad their tech was so much better than ours as otherwise it could have been a pretty even fight. We didn’t hesitate to fire off our rockets and heavy armaments either so the world was ready.

There is some plot hax in the climax though. As I mentioned the aliens do have the superior tech here including ships that can run rings around ours. Their speed is so great that they can appear from nowhere to disintegrate us and then vanish again. How is it that they didn’t notice the humans plotting against them? At the very least you would expect them to have the main characters under surveillance until the invention was built. Leaving the humans alone (Even after they broke the alien spy probe) was just not a smart idea. Even once they knew that the humans were turning violent they sent in one robot instead of blasting the place to smithereens. The humans got lucky and they know it.

We do get some decent action sequences at the end though as we shoot down all of their UFOs. You’ll end up feeling bad for the landmarks though as the aliens make sure to crash into them every time one ship is shot down. By the end of the fight I feel like the city will look a whole lot different. I suppose some damage is expected when saving the world though. I also like to think that the aliens made sure to intentionally hit these spots just to at least get a little petty consolation victory. If only they had just tried destroying us all when they had the chance!

Overall, This was a fun movie. It’s a classic Alien Invasion story filled with suspense and action. The writing for the movie is certainly on point even if the main characters are annoying. The characters you will be rooting for the most will be the government agents. They don’t plan to go down without a fight and talk tough whenever they are on screen. That’s exactly what I like to see and even the Aliens admitted that in a battle for the Earth we would keep fighting til the last man. Humanity got its props here.

Overall 7/10

Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror Review

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It’s time to look at another Sherlock Holmes film. This one definitely takes a very different approach as it deals with taking down the Nazi’s as opposed to the average crook. It is still a mystery adventure as always but one with the highest of stakes. Should Holmes fail to win the day all of England will fall. Considering that this film came out during World War II it definitely makes sense to have it tie in. While it’s a good movie, this one does feel like a step down from the last adventure.

So there is a mysterious voice which goes on the air once a week to boast about how the Germans keep destroying secret British agents and supply trains. Many civilians perish as well. After the government has had enough of this they call in Sherlock Holmes. Naturally the high council isn’t thrilled as they mock Holmes quite a bit and state that a detective can’t stop such a threat. Holmes didn’t take the case to make friends so he doesn’t care about their chilly attitude all that much but he is determined to crack this case. To that end he will need to get the aid of the underground but will these criminals really band together to help him?

Seeing Holmes talk tough to all of the high ranking officials was definitely amusing. He is portrayed as being absolutely fearless here and that’s really the way that it should be. You don’t get to be the best detective in the world by playing it safe or beating around the bush so naturally he has learned to defend himself. This version of Holmes is a fighter and even at gunpoint he keeps his cool. He’s definitely the highlight of the film although his character doesn’t work quite as well for the emotional scenes.

The scene of him recruiting one of his old underworld contacts, Kitty dragged on quite a bit. We got long zoom ins of her reacting to the news and him trying to look sincere. That being said, the film probably just should have stuck to its guns with the serious mystery and some humor as the other emotional moment also doesn’t sail. We get a long speech from Kitty to the crooks where she attempts to mock them a lot which would theoretically make them want to help. Eventually they took the bait but the speech was a little cheesy.

While it may sound like Kitty just wasn’t a good character, these moments were the exception. She is actually the most important character in the film as she did all of the brain work while Holmes ironically did the leg work. Without Kitty finding out all of the important information off screen, Holmes would have been in quite the pickle. Honestly he didn’t do a whole lot of sleuthing in comparison to the average film. That’s why the conclusion to the film is rather disappointing. It comes across as rather unnecessary as there is no reason why Kitty couldn’t have a happy ending like everyone else. The heroes don’t even mourn much at all as they halfheartedly give one line in remembrance of her and go right back to cracking jokes and having a grand time.

This is especially mean spirited since Holmes is the one who gave her the very unreasonably dangerous job in the first place. He had her allow herself to be kidnapped and then she would be a mole from the inside. There are so many reasons why this could fail but at the very least she should be given an escape plan. At the very least don’t let Kitty be around for the final confrontation but what happened there was mostly just overconfidence on the part of the heroes.

I will say that the villain was pretty interesting. I’m talking about the true culprit who is revealed at the end. I like his smug demeanor and his plan was certainly long term. Waiting 10 years to actually make a move certainly takes a considerable amount of patience. The main underling isn’t quite as interesting. All things considered the guy is pretty generic. You won’t remember him much by the time you finish the film.

As always the writing is pretty good. The banter between the characters is always fun and it’s easy to root for either Watson or Holmes. While Watson may not be as smart as Holmes, he always sticks up for the lead. He is portrayed as more competent than usual here at the very least. Holmes does the talking and Watson always takes his gun out and stays prepared. They have a lot of teamwork here and it’s easy to see why the pair has lasted so long.

As for the council, they are the main suspects in this film. I mean, you could make the assumption that none of them are the villain, but then there wouldn’t be much of a mystery right? Always suspect every character in a Sherlock Holmes film. I feel like the film didn’t really leave any clues as to who the culprit was til near the end but one story was certainly more suspicious than the rest so I guess that is enough to go on. I enjoyed the council though. Sure, they were all fairly stuck up and really seemed to be out of their league all the time, but that always makes for good banter. Holmes definitely had the edge here right from the start though, but the council did their best.

Overall, This is definitely a unique take on Sherlock Holmes and it isn’t a bad one. The ending does slightly sour the experience though. Fortunately the writing is sound and the characters are interesting so there is still a decent amount of replay value here. The film is also quite short as well. If you want to check out a Holmes film for the first time then this isn’t the one to pick. However, this is still a solid film for fans who just want to enjoy a good thriller and for longtime Holmes fans to see him in a different environment.

Overall 7/10

Batman and Harley Quinn Review

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It’s time to look at a fairly recent DC film. The DCAU was one of the best things to ever happen to comics in general so it’s good to see it make a comeback with this film. Unfortunately its comeback is on a rather low note here as the film makes too many mistakes but if this leads to a new Justice League installment or maybe even a Superman film then I’ll be up for it. It definitely got a good retro vibe going for it.

The film starts off with Poison Ivy and the Floronic Man deciding to form an alliance and turn the world into plants. Batman and Nightwing figure that they won’t be able stop this threat on their own so they enlist the help of Harley Quinn. She agrees to help but is determined to make the heroes regret bringing her along. Will this team be able to keep it together long enough to save the world or do they just need to hope that the villains make a mistake somewhere along the line? The time is ticking!

One thing you’ll notice right away is that the film does a good job of recreating the classic sound effects from the DCAU. One thing that always stood out back then was how hard each blow sounded. Every movement had power behind it and it’s likely also due to the animation style. This film recreated it quite well and then throwing in the familiar voices made the experience even more authentic. On a technical level the film certainly didn’t disappoint. The hand to hand fights are also quite solid like Nightwing vs Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy vs Harley. Both fights were nice and long. It does bring up a mild question though of how Poison Ivy is so good at martial arts. I can understand Harley being really good, although I think she should not be able to do so well against Nightwing, but then how can Poison Ivy hold her own against such an opponent? It seems like everyone is apparently a martial arts master at this point.

Batman is a solid main character as always. While I think he was rather quick to throw in the towel by asking Harley to come along I guess time was of the essence here. The villains plan was actually pretty quick and well thought out for a change. It’s certainly a fairly unique threat. Batman is also upfront with the constant insults to the government so it’s nice to see that he is still feared by villains and heroes alike. I mean, the henchmen at the bar didn’t fear him, but they were quickly taught that lesson afterwards.

Lets talk about where the film went wrong now. For starters, it definitely is trying quite a bit to be edgier than the old days. Not in a cool well written way like Batman V Superman as that’s dark, but not edgy. Here we have Harley Quinn throwing in swear words just to remind us that she’s one of the villains from time to time. The script never gets too crazy, but each moment feels forced. Then we have random comments thrown in to show us that everyone is rather terrible in Gotham. The government agent guy is cheating for some reason and the normal citizens are all James Bond and Captain Kirk types.

The film also includes quite a bit of fanservice with Harley Quinn. As with Suicide Squad all it does it help defeat the point of trying to make her a strong character. The scene with her and Nightwing takes the cake of being the worst scene in the film though. It’s no surprise to see Harley Quinn back on the rebound, but Nightwing should have had the will power to stay true to the mission and refuse her. He looked terrible in that scene and this leads to a lot of painful lines later on as it keeps being brought up. On second thought, the writing was actually rather bad in this film. We even get crude humor thrown in.

So, Batman is the only good hero in this film. Nightwing was completely destroyed by this scene and just couldn’t make it back up the charts. There’s no way to take him seriously by this point. Then Harley Quinn is also beyond saving because her character is just no good. It’s great that she doesn’t want to be a villain anymore and she tries to earn sympathy points by showing how rough it is for an ex-con in Gotham, but she certainly doesn’t make it any easier on herself. She gets a happy ending at least so hopefully she doesn’t mess it up this time.

The villains are a lot more interesting and they’re better handled. The Floronic Man is the completely evil member of the duo and he can’t wait to destroy the humans. He’s a villain who has never gotten the spotlight before so it was cool to see him here. The guy seems like a reasonable villain. He may not be much of a threat, but can still put up a fairly good fight. Then we have Poison Ivy who was always good in the DCAU. She isn’t as insane as the average villain and ultimately at least has a good reason for being evil. I do think it was a bit iffy how Floronic Man was basically the leader of their partnership though since he is basically made out of plants. I think Ivy should be able to defeat him rather easily, but of course walking within punching distance wouldn’t be wise. These two villains are probably the 2nd and 3rd best characters in the film.

There isn’t much of a soundtrack, but we hear a really solid remix near the end of the film and overall it was rather fast paced. I wasn’t crazy about the lyrical songs though so I guess they roughly cancel out in the end. This film isn’t too long and the pacing is good so at least it doesn’t end up dragging on. I do have to question why the film plays up a certain death near the end like it’s a big deal though. It was a character that nobody cared about and it’s not as if he died in a particularly brutal way or anything. I guess the heroes are heroic enough to care though so I can’t fault them for that.

Overall, Batman and Harley Quinn wasn’t a good movie but I think anyone probably could have guessed that based on the title. Whenever there is a film based around Harley Quinn you know that it’s not going to work out very well. This film pretty much made every mistake that it could here. At least it wasn’t all that violent so it dodged that. Still, excessive fanservice and bad writing is enough to bring a film down. Also the quick case of animal violence as a mouse blows up. That scene is so incredibly unnecessary that you have to wonder what the film was thinking. I would recommend passing on this film as there are plenty of other, better DC films to watch instead.

Overall 4/10

Monster Hunter Stories: Ride On Review

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It’s time to look at Monster Hunter. An anime that may be different than what you’re expecting as it is based on a very specific game in the series that is about riders instead of hunters. The series never really manages to break out of its shell and become something too epic which is a shame. There are certainly some more interesting things they could have done here and it could have potentially opened up into something like Pokemon. Still, it’s a reasonably good show and one that lasted for a long time so the show had time for a lot of things to happen.

There are two main arcs, but lets say 3 since the pre arc was rather long. The start of the show is about Lute, Cheval, and Lilia as they journey throughout the village and into towns as they learn more about being Riders. Unlike Hunters who destroy monsters for rewards and safety, Lute and the gang grew up in a village where they live as pals. Lute aims to prove that having kinship with a monster is the right thing to do while the hunters aren’t very sure. Hijinx ensues and the cast often have to wonder if this is the right call. Even if it is, how will they convince anyone to change sides? To become a rider you have to get a special jewel and to do that you basically have to join a village so that’s a tough sell for anyone.

The next arc is the darkest of the show as Cheval’s life is forever changed when a blighted monster destroys the village. He decides to avenge his family by hunting down and destroying all blighted monsters. Lute doesn’t think that this is the way to go though and decides to purify all of the crystals instead to stop the corruption at its core. The two of them become enemies now and while Lute is convinced that they can still be friends with differing opinions, Cheval doesn’t agree. He aims to destroy Lute once and for all to prove that sometimes Kinship isn’t enough to keep two people together.

Finally, the series brings in a new group of villains known as the Black/Ebon/Dark Riders who show up and kidnap Avinia. They aim to bring the world to its knees by performing a forbidden ritual and getting unlimited power. Lute and Cheval have to try and stop these guys, but the problem is that they are outnumbered and these villains are also way too powerful. They will need some kind of power up to hold their own. The other villagers realize that they will have to get stronger as well, but can they bridge the gap in time?
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The show’s tone was all over the place, but for the most part it was rather light. Think of it as a classic slice of life series for a while as the heroes head to various towns and chat with people. That’s why in some cases the episodes could get a little boring since the cast isn’t amazing. Then the show gets really dark for the main Blighted Monsters arc. One thing the show is rarely clear about is if defeating monsters means destroying them. It seems like this is the case due to how everyone reacts and Lute always tells everyone not to defeat the monsters except for when he does. The show’s just really not consistent here. This may be more the dub than anything, but it really tried to never use the word destroy. As a result, “defeated” is the term always used even when a monster is slain.

That’s why the middle arc gets really dark as Cheval goes around destroying all monsters who have been in contact with the blight and even any other that just gets in his way. Lute and the others are unable to save any of them. Chieval even commands a Nargacuga of his own as a revenge of sorts for the main one dealing with his family. He is very mean to it of course and then abandons it. Cheval never really had to answer for all of this much and I just felt bad for the monsters. Then of course we have the hunters running around slaying them all. It’s definitely a rather brutal world that Lute and the others live in. The worst part is that Lute has his kinship stone which can purify all of the blighted monsters but he typically forgets about this and still tries to take some of them down at times. This whole part of the saga definitely brings it down quite a bit and is one of the main reasons why the Black Rider arc ended up winning. At this point the monsters started getting written out a bit although Shadow still destroys quite a few along the way as well. I guess they all need to become pals with a main character quickly before it’s too late.

Lute is your typical main character. He believes in the power of friendship (Known as Kinship here) and is always willing to lend a helping hand. He’s really close with Navirou so they trade insults quite a lot but all in good fun. Lute’s only real flaw at times is just how much of a pacifist he is. Even when being attacked he refuses to fight back if he is up against a fellow rider. This is at its worst during the final arc when he first fights with Gale. Considering that this guy kidnapped one of his friends and may destroy the village, Lute really has no time to keep trying to dodge the fight. You’ve got to make a stand and it’s not like simply fighting the opponent is the same as destroying him. Aside from that it is nice to have a more experienced Lute for the final arc. He is treated with a lot of respect at the end since he did help save the world and his new design does a good job of getting that across without any words. As soon as you see the design for the first time you can tell that he has gotten stronger.

Navirou is Lute’s travel companion and he is very useful for navigation in his mind at least. He is the main comic relief character of the series so you can probably guess that he isn’t very good at almost anything. He does have some thunder abilities which are really handy when Navirou actually remembers that he has such a power. Unfortunately that isn’t very often so don’t expect to see it much. Navirou’s cross armed salute is probably his best running gag but I also don’t mind his “Navi rules.” Cutting out some of his comic relief would probably have been nice though or even some of the cat episodes in genera. Overall I think he worked well as a support character and I’m glad he was around but the character could have been better.

Lilia is technically one of the 3 main characters for a while but starts to get written out by the end. Her path in the show was doomed from the start as she did t have a monster to protect her. Without a monstie in an action show like this, of course she wouldn’t ultimately stand a chance. It’s the same situation as being in a Pokémon show without catching a Pokémon. Lilia decided that she wanted to be a researcher instead which is fine but that kind of character rarely gets to do all that much. Lilia ends up being rather bland as a result.

Then we have Cheval who is the main rival. He gets a very Sasuke esque role here as he starts out by being one of the more heroic characters, but quickly starts to let the darkness consume him. He goes as far as to try and destroy Lute multiple times and nearly destroys one of his own Monsties. His whole arc gets rather dark at times. Naturally he also gets the redemption arc at the end as well. It may be a little tough to buy into as well especially since he did claim quite a few victims. Lute may accept him, but should he? Ultimately it’s hard to see Cheval as anything but a villain even by the end. It’s a shame because his character type is always nice as he becomes the rival that he always should have been by the end. The guy certainly went through a lot of character changes.

Avinia is a mysterious figure who shows up in the series from time to time before getting a big role in the final arc. She does lose this mystique almost right away but it was nice to finally have another rider who could fight. At the time Lute was the only heroic rider so he really needed an ally. Unfortunately, we never did get that Avinia vs Cheval fight I was hoping for. Once again I can say that the show dropped the ball with Avinia quite a bit. She has one of the best designs in the show and a monstie with a lot of potential. Despite this she rarely fights in the series and spends most of the final arc on the sidelines. Considering how powerful she apparently is, I would have liked to have seen her play a more active role. Still a cool character but one who wasn’t given enough to do in the show.
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Of course we can’t forget about Deb….Li. Every character in the series likes to mess up his name and it is heavily implied that this is intentional. That’s because they say his name normally when he isn’t around. We already have a handful of comic relief characters but I guess you can never have too many as this one was thrown in as well. For the most part he is about as obnoxious as you would expect. He yells quite a lot and can’t seem to do anything right. The one running gag that he does right (Aside from the whole name thing since that one is decent because of how Debli panics every time) is when he Rides on. The animation and fake sound effect that he gets for it is handled beautifully. Debli toes the line between being a sympathetic character and an annoying one and does a good job of making it ambiguous. In the end I was okay with him although I wouldn’t have been sad if he had never shown up.

Reverto is probably one of her biggest unintentional jokes in the series. He gets a lot of hype throughout the series as being one of the world’s greatest hunters. If that really is the case then that doesn’t bode well for the hunters in general. He can barely handle any legitimately strong monsters and forget about taking down a plot important villain. In this show all hunters can do is swing their sword around and hope to land some good hits. They have no special abilities or even any enhanced physical ones. They are just guys with swords. Of course one of the main themes of the show is that the Riders are right and the Hunters are wrong so I wouldn’t expect them to look that good but they look downright horrible by the end. Hundreds of hunters can accomplish what a single rider can because they have no special abilities. Why would they possibly not want to become riders then? How have they not all been wiped out by this point? Anyway, there isn’t anything actually wrong with Reverto as he is a decent character but you just can’t take him seriously when he is fighting because despite all of the tough talk you know that he won’t end up coming out on top. He is just there to buy time for Lute.

Simone would fall into the same issue except from the start she is portrayed as a researcher rather than a fighter. Her intel is rarely useful and barely goes beyond the realm of common knowledge but I guess her role isn’t all that bad. She’s just not a very interesting character and none of her scenes really leave an impact. Cut her out from the show entirely and nothing really changes at all. That’s never a good sign.

Dan is one of those comic relief characters where you aren’t sure if it is intentional or not for a while. Technically you would think that he is rather skilled since he is rather old and teaches the kids, but they end up surpassing him very quickly. Part of the issue is the fact that he chose a very weak monster to be his monstie. He never explains why he doesn’t just pick a different creature. Perhaps it has sentimental value or perhaps he just isn’t the smartest rider in the group. Either way, his character doesn’t work too well and his “In top Form” battle cry is so half hearted that you will wonder why they built a whole character around the line. As you can tell, many of the supporting characters just aren’t very interesting. I won’t even get into the various elders who never do anything or the riddle master who is just annoying.
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Mille is one of the side characters who is actually good. She can fight and in the final arc is probably the strongest rider aside from the main 2. (Lute and Chevall) O would have liked her to have gotten more of a role though. From the start of the show you got the impression that she may turn out to be a bit of a rival or at the very least would remain as one of the main fighters for a while. Instead she is effectively kept to the background for most of the show. Still a good character but she could have been even better.

Instead a lot of screen time is wasted on Hyoro as he tries to overcome his timid nature. The plot does not go well and he even sides with the villainous Chevall to take on the village. Yes, Mille does this as well but at least she was already a quality character. Hyoro never ends up becoming a good character and even after he gets stronger off screen for the final arc it’s hard to ever gain respect for the guy. He just never had a big moment where he got past his fears and did something amazing. Instead he essentially proved his doubts right as he never got to be all that strong. Genie is Hyoro’s older brother and the main reason why the kid turned out the way that he did. Genie can be overly critical of Hyoro but of course he says it is only to make Hyoro better. I didn’t mind Genie, but he was a rather half hearted bully who couldn’t back up his tough talk. Ultimately he was about as weak as the other side characters and Hyoro likely surpassed him in the end.

Gale is the Shadow Rider with the biggest role in the series. He gets to fight Lute quite a few times and his skills are the real deal. He is also the strongest member I’d say although Shadow would give him some competition for that title. He gets quite a few plot twists. While his plan may not have been amazing and he probably should have tried doing something a little earlier, he did make for a good rival. He just kept getting stuck in rather bad situations. While he was also unable to make the hero move at the end which nearly caught him, it’s a mistake that I could sympathize with since he was so close to finally accomplishing his goal. It was an intense moment and he’s in my top 3 characters in the series. I’d say that he is second only to Lute.

Next is Shadow who is certainly the 2nd coolest member of the group. Her speed is astounding to the point where the heroes can’t even keep track of where she is. There is a plot twist about this that I was a little mixed on. It is essentially a nerf, but I didn’t see it coming so I’ll give the show that. I also think Shadow’s rage mode should have kicked in instantly after what Anvis ends up doing to someone instead of waiting til their next meeting. It’s not as if anything would have changed in the outcome though.

Then we have Mad who is one of the villains that you can’t take seriously. I guess in the end the Riders could only score a 50 as 2 of their members were good and the others weren’t. Mad is just one of those guys who only cares about his looks and as a result he can be defeated if you simply get some dirt on him. Even his monster’s design isn’t all that good. It’s basically just a huge worm so that’s not too impressive. Same goes for Wrath but to an even bigger extent. Wrath is the strong but not smart type, but he isn’t even all that tough. There’s nothing original or interesting about him as a character.

Finally we have Anvis, the leader of these guys. Somehow he was able to gain control over an Elder Dragon even before undergoing the complete power up ceremony. Considering this, he does earn the title of being the strongest rider in existence. He makes for a solid final boss and a solid character all around. He definitely thought things through and stayed one step ahead of Gale and the heroes for a while. He’s a considerable improvement over the doctor who was the main villain of the first few arcs. He is reduced to comic relief for the final arc and was never much of a threat anyway. His episodes had a tendency to simply be rather boring so I was fine with him being gone.

There are also the Numbers, but they never had much of a point in the story. They are really just around to get their long piece of recycled animation over and over again. The show certainly loved doing that to save on the budget. The animation for the show is fairly decent. It does take a lot of shortcuts by using recycled animation constantly though. This becomes a bigger issue in season 2 as we even get little scenes of the characters reaching out when calling their monsties. It feels really forced and I could have done without that. I’m happy they all got armor but it just feels like another way to save on animation. It also uses quite a bit of CGI. We do get some real animation whenever a big fight happens though. Some of the special abilities also look really good like Chevall’s energy disc. Overall, the animation wouldn’t hurt the show, but it wouldn’t really help it either.

The soundtrack is rather bland as well unfortunately. You will definitely start to remember the tunes after a while since they keep on popping up, but that’s because the soundtrack is just really limited. I would have loved to have had some really great tunes to amp up the fight scenes, but alas it was simply not to be. This title could not deliver.

Finally I have to say that the show’s ride on mechanic seems rather odd. Basically the monstie that is summoned shows up when a character strikes the pose. The show portrays this as the monsters are just hiding nearby until they are needed but what are they doing in the meantime? Shouldn’t they just be with the heroes then? Lute has over 6 monsties in the show, but only uses his main one for basically the whole series. What is even the point of everyone having up to 6 if they only use one for all of the fights? They should have just had Pokeballs of some kind to keep the others in as that would make more sense if you ask me. I think the show dropped the ball a little on the collect them all aspect of the series.

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Overall, This isn’t a bad show. I’d say that Monster Hunter is fairly decent. The problem is that it’s only average or below average in most areas. There isn’t a single section that I could point to and say that the series was amazing. On the contrary, the series could be a little boring at times. The characters just aren’t strong enough to hold the show as well as others could. It got a little more exciting towards the end but the show also amped up the crude humor and comedy to match. I’d recommend checking it out at some point if you need a good fantasy show, but there are many others that I would suggest seeing before this one. At least there is a lot of content here since the show managed to make it to around 70 episodes. That was actually pretty impressive.

Overall 6/10